I (Cathy) often listen to novels (on my ipod mini) as a series by one author. By doing this I can get very familiar with an author’s style, recurring themes and track her/his growth as a writer. This summer was Jodi Picoult.
So far I have listened to 8 novels: The Pact, Perfect Match, Vanishing Act, The Storyteller, House Rules, Lone Wolf, Nineteen Minutes, and Sing You Home. I discovered she often writes about trials. She also tends to write from several points of view in each novel. I particularly liked this trait with the trial books, because I could ‘hear’ the perspectives of both the defense and the prosecution. Sometimes she uses one character in two books, which I also enjoyed.
Her strength, however, is her ability to tackle issues. She excels at them. Big, messy ones. (She wrote My Sisters Keeper, which became a popular movie starring Cameron Diaz and Alec Baldwin). The novel I just finished, Nineteen Minutes, was about a bullied high school student that decided to fight back by shooting several students in his school. It was graphic and disturbing, but portrayed with sensitivity and realism. The issues she portrayed in the trail bothered me so much, I found myself describing scenes to my husband and asking his opinion on them. I was emotionally snagged. I view this as a sign of an excellent writer. My favourite book of the 8, was The Storyteller, but it also was, at times, hard to listen to. A holocaust story, it was brutally realistic and very emotional.
I recommend her work as a wonderful resource for a book club, especially if you like a good discussion about polarized views and moral dilemmas. She has a new one coming out in October, Leaving Time, which I plan to order and buy a hard copy for my daughter. She is a big Jodi Picoult fan and started me on this series. After this, I haven’t decided which author to tackle next. Any recommendations?